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On converting .pst, government style

Written By: - Date published: 1:52 pm, August 4th, 2013 - 49 comments
Categories: john key, Parliament, peter dunne, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Were David Henry and his staff the right people to pursue an inquiry? After all it appears that they were incapable of opening a Outlook .pst (personal storage table) file because it wasn’t in a format that another email system – groupwise.

And this appears to have held them up for days. That is interesting because they had the files before they requested permission from Peter Dunne

I’m incredulous that this can be the case. Because it literally takes minutes to use google to find the answer to do conversions from pst to groupwise or anything else. .pst is such an ancient format that has had export/import systems to every other format created.

convert pstTry “convert pst to groupwise” which amongst other things presents information about how to use import functions in groupwise.  You can find similar topics for converting on mac and even linux.

convert pst“, amongst other things, brings up an advertisement for Transcend’s group of mail convertors. Despite it sounding like an ad, I’d have to say these are still amongst my favourite no-nonsense convertors for shifting email systems from proprietary formats to something useable. I’ve used then converting many systems as it also preserves almost all of the detail. It even has a free version that will convert the few emails that they requested and that says

To receive a free working trial version of a Transend software product please fill in and submit the requested information below. Once the registration is accepted by our system you will automatically be presented with software download options. This may take up to 15 seconds. If the page does not display or you get an error, please contact us as noted below.

Of course that 15 seconds and the few more second to download the file is dwarfed by the 2 days that the Henry enquiry were (apparently) unable to open those emails. Reading the emails, the only reason that they didn’t open and read the emails was because of an inability to use google!

Sure I know it takes time to get any software on a government computer because of the security considerations. But it seems to me that one of the most crucial things that a group of people in government running an enquiry would need would be conversion software. In legal circles this process is known as eDiscovery and is done precisely because it carries critical metadata that is beyond what could be put in a paper document, or even the eventual HTML format that was being promised 6 days later.

It isn’t rocket science and the tools are available in a simple google query. I’d have expected that any enquiry would be equipped with them. Unless of course it was more expedient that they were not…

 

It is also pleasant to observe that Pete George has now found a useful and productive egress for his obsessional behaviour.  Good posts.

49 comments on “On converting .pst, government style”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    “.pst??? What sort of fiendish encryption is this? I’ve never seen anything like it! Only Al Qaeda has THIS sort of security, get the NSA on the line!”

    • lprent 1.1

      I haven’t looked at the binary of the .pst for a while. But I seem to remember that you could just read them… They use a UTF16 format from what I have seen… Ummm

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Storage_Table#Data_access

      Password protection can be used to protect the content of the .pst files.[4] However, Microsoft admits that the password adds very little protection, due to the existence of commonly available tools which can remove or simply bypass the password protection.[5] The password to access the table is stored without the first and last XOR CRC-32 integer representation of itself in the .pst file. Outlook checks to make sure that it matches the user-specified password and refuses to operate if there is no match. The data is readable by the libpst project code.

      In other words – effectively no encryption and there is a public library to read it.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Storage_Table#Formats_and_size

      From Outlook 2003 and onward, the standard format for .pst and .ost files is Unicode (UTF-16 little-endian). The use of 64-bit pointers instead of the 32-bit pointers of the earlier version allowed to overcome the 2 GB limit. Now, there is a user-definable maximum-file size up to 20 GB. This format is supported by Microsoft Outlook 2003 and later (2007) [9][10]

  2. Malcolm 2

    Obviously you have not done much IT support. Simple problem solving steps as doing a Google search is actually beyond most people. That is before you get to such technical hurdles as installing a piece of software and learning how to use it. The fact is most people have no computer skills beyond “Push button, computer work”. As soon as something a bit different happens they are lost and common sense does not come in to it. The computer is a mysterious box filled with black magic and wonder to them.

    • RJL 2.1

      Simple problem solving steps as doing a Google search is actually beyond most people.

      You are perhaps right.

      However, most people shouldn’t be conducting a parliamentary inquiry. The people conducting this inquiry are paid big $. Surely, they should have the minimal IT skills required for this, or at least have a staffer with the capability.

      As it stands, their claim is that they are too stupid to have broken the law.

    • BM 2.2

      Ha ha, it’s funny because it’s true.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      Obviously you have not done much IT support. Simple problem solving steps as doing a Google search is actually beyond most people.

      You know, I figure that as soon as they got them and found that they couldn’t open them they asked someone in IT department about opening them. This would have resulted in the correct plugin being installed pretty much immediately if it wasn’t already and I’m guessing the latter. It’s almost incomprehensible in this day and age of programs not being able to open other formats.

    • BLiP 2.4

      Bullshit. Anyone educated in the last 30 years knows full well how to work a computer and make use of the internet. They are the generation which have never known a world without the internet. The only difficulty this cohort have is with in-house bullshit programmes installed by some corporate which happens to run a call-centre filled with morons who refer to themselves as “IT support”.

      • BM 2.4.1

        I disagree.

        Maybe the last 10-15 but even then most most people are farkin lazy and only know what they need to know.

        Lost count of the amount of times I heard, thank fuck that’s school over, no more learning for me.

        • BLiP 2.4.1.1

          We are talking about people working at the top echelons of government power and you are trying to support an assertion that they can’t work their way through a minute, day-to-day computer file format hassle? Even John Key could get that sorted.

          • felix 2.4.1.1.1

            “Even John Key could get that sorted”

            You’d think so, wouldn’t you? As it turns out though…. 😉

          • McFlock 2.4.1.1.2

            Even John Key could get that sorted.

            But he’d then forget how he did it, and then correct himself and say that he couldn’t remember whether he did it or it was someone else.

            edit: snap felix :)

        • felix 2.4.1.2

          BM that last sentence is nothing but an indication of the company you keep.

          However I don’t disagree with the core of what you’re saying. The vast majority – in my humble experience – of the so-called digital native generation are actually fucking useless with software beyond gaming and facebook.

          • BLiP 2.4.1.2.1

            What’s being discussed is that a staff member claimed to be unable to open a file because it was in the wrong format. Now, given the level of inter-department emailing and filesharing that goes on and has been going on for years and years, is it reasonable to assume that this sort of hassle is beyond the ability of someone working in that environment? BM’s dribble seems more of an attack on public servants having no skills than an accurate observation of this situation.

            • felix 2.4.1.2.1.1

              Oh they could definitely have found someone to open it. No question. My comment was about software literacy in general.

              • BLiP

                Ahhh . . . gotchya. As it happens, even with my relative competence, I still don’t know how to make Excel do what I want it to. Every time I do my budget it comes up short

                ; )

    • Mike S 2.5

      Yes most people are hopeless when it comes to their computers. However, in this instance, they are full of shit. Of course they fuckin’ opened them!

      In my groupwise email I click on the file menu at the top left of the screen, scroll down to the ‘import .pst file’ which I click on and there you have it. Even my Dad could probably figure that out if he had to.

  3. One Anonymous Knucklehead 3

    Come on Lprent: these are the people who can’t tell the difference between a court issued warrant and the whims of a lying Prime Minister.

    • lprent 3.1

      There is that… But rather than being the police or our security forces (who have a problem with breaking the law) and their oversight mentor (the IG), these are the people running the enquiry who are meant whitewash examine the leak of a top-secret document.

      They don’t know how to convert a .pst file? Don’t have access to their own people to do it?

      So what use are they?

  4. Brooklyn Bridge 4

    pst. I’ve a bridge I’d like to sell you.

  5. infused 5

    Where have they said the emails were delivered in PST?

  6. aj 6

    The fact they said they couldn’t open them doesn’t mean they didn’t. Who can trust anything now.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Actually, I’d say that they did and that they’re just using the “incompatibility” as “proof” that they didn’t when pretty much any email program out there would probably be able to read it by default or have a conversion plugin available.

      • infused 6.1.1

        not many can read pst files, as there is no need to. Outlook Express, or Windows Mail now, uses a different format, which most mail clients can convert easily without plugs.

        Outlook is a different beast.

  7. RedLogix 7

    Or that they simply didn’t copy them off to someone else who could open them. I mean for goodness sake, the idea that they had this file for several days and somehow never managed to figure out something to do with it is just plain risible.

  8. BLiP 8

    I know computer companies see the New Zealand Government as a sitting duck, but I cannot accept that the conversion facility had not already been installed as a function. I won’t use Outlook, but isn;t there a conversion function already built in for previous file formats . . . even Notepad does that sort of thing.

    On the other hand, I can well understand why a public servant caught in the middle of a John Key shitstorm would want to avoid even the slightest indication of improbity. Downloading anything from the Internet is pretty much frowned upon in any computer network, let alone actually installing it. My work computer sets off all sorts of alarm bells when I visit any kind of download link and won’t actually allow me to install anyting. If I was the public servant who received that file, any excuse, even admitting computer illiteracy, would suit me rather than risking more John Key via Eagleson spittle.

    I know Winston doubts that certain files were never examined. He puts his assumption down to “human curiosity” or some such foible. I’m not so sure. Given the conflicting statements and outright lies that have been told about this situation, however, I think it would be fair to assume that all files were examined and work back from that position. Ideally, all this could be cleared up with an analysis of the released emails with a forensic check for parity with the server logs.

    • infused 8.1

      ost files and pst files are a storage format. They are there for cached mode of exchange unless you are using Outlook as a general email program… which the govt won’t be doing.

      they can also be encrypted.

      • BLiP 8.1.1

        Why wouldn’t the government use Outlook as a general email programme? Its a hugely clumsy insecure Micro$oft monstrosity but just about every public servant I know uses it. I also know it comes bundled with the PC operating system on new and replacement machines. Outlook is pretty much the default option for the entire public service. Probably part of some deal John Key did with his US corporate mates to facilitate spying on the public service.

        • infused 8.1.1.1

          No it doesn’t. Thats Microsoft Mail or Outlook Express.

          Outlook is specifically for use with Exchange. Hence why everyone in govt uses it, cause they have an Exchange server….

          Your average joe wouldn’t use it.

          • BM 8.1.1.1.1

            Look

            You’re ruining the plot, the official line from HQ is that there’s something shifty going on here and Key is the ring leader.
            Do every one a favor and stick to the script.

          • Daveosaurus 8.1.1.1.2

            You’re way out of date. Outlook Express has been dead for years. Outlook is what comes with Windows 7 (I know because I have it) and I think it came with Vista as well.

            In any case it’s easy as to save a file without opening it; and any big corporation will have their email systems tracked and backed-up so that nothing can ever be lost, so the .pst file in question is most likely going to sit around Parliament forever.

            • infused 8.1.1.1.2.1

              Outlook does not come with Windows 7. It may have Office preinstalled if you ask. Windows7 comes with Windows Mail.

              Outlook is a Microsoft Office application.

              There is confusion because of the different names it has.

          • lprent 8.1.1.1.3

            Outlook is standard in most Microsoft Office packages. The government runs on office and mass purchases it – usually in the full suite.

      • lprent 8.1.2

        they can also be encrypted.

        Unlikely since it sounds like they exported them from an exchange server for the enquiry.

        • infused 8.1.2.1

          It is unlikely, but you can export with encryption. It’s a main option.

          • Draco T Bastard 8.1.2.1.1

            Oh yes, I can see how the conversation went:

            Govt nerd 1: We should encrypt this
            Govt nerd 2: Whatever for, they’re just going to open it.
            Govt nerd 1: Because it’s private information, nerd.
            Govt nerd 2: Oh yeah, right.
            [ticks the encryption box and puts the password in the email]

            I’d say that you’re an idiot but the way that you’re spinning this BS it’s obvious that you’re trying very hard to defend the government.

  9. Murray Olsen 9

    I bet if I got handed a pst file I could be reading it well within 2 days, and I have no special abilities with a computer. I don’t believe they didn’t read them. I don’t believe that parliamentary services doesn’t have anyone working there with even my level of IT knowledge.

  10. Jenny 10

    Just as well, not all the information needed for this inquiry was not sent to them in this format. Otherwise they might have been left sitting around for two weeks drinking coffee twiddling their thumbs while drawing down their huge salaries.

    To awed by their own magnificence to ask for tech support.

  11. tracey 12

    Outlook does not require exchange if you use older versions which many do and I do not use express.

    I worked for a law firm recently which was using xp and office 2003.

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  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    20 hours ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    20 hours ago
  • Thank you John, it’s been bloody marvellous
    The departure of John Campbell is a blow to current affairs investigative journalism, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Campbell Live stood out in its field. Its axing comes as local broadcasting in New Zealand remains in a state of… ...
    20 hours ago
  • KiwiSaver cut shows no long-term plan
    National’s cutting of the KiwiSaver kickstart is incredibly short-term thinking, typical of a Budget that is woefully short on ideas to generate wealth and opportunity, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “New Zealand’s savings rate is far too low. KiwiSaver… ...
    22 hours ago
  • National hits the panic button for its 7th Budget
    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    2 days ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    2 days ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    2 days ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    3 days ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    4 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    4 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    4 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • House prices to a crack $1 million in 17 months
    The average Auckland home is on track to cost $1 million in 17 months’ time if nothing substantial is done to rein in soaring price rises, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland’s house prices have skyrocketed 63 per cent… ...
    4 days ago
  • Vital support services can’t be left in lurch
    The National Government has big questions to answer about how a provider of services to thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is set to fold, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. Relationships Aotearoa which provides support and counselling to families, individuals… ...
    5 days ago
  • Treasury and IRD on a capital gains tax
    Both the Treasury and IRD have been advising the National Government on the benefits of a capital gains tax. Documents released to the Green Party under an Official Information Act request show that John Key has been selective with the… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    5 days ago
  • Charity legislation needs review
    It is unacceptable that the big corporate based charities claim  millions in annual income tax exemptions, while small community based and operated non-profit organisations  struggle to gain official charity status, Labour’s acting spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community Sector Louisa… ...
    5 days ago
  • John’s panic-Key response to housing crisis
    John Key needs to tell New Zealanders what caused his sudden change of heart that led to the Government’s scrambled and last-minute housing measures, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The Prime Minister’s sudden rush of blood to his head followed… ...
    5 days ago
  • Keep our Assets Christchurch Campaign: An update
    I recently presented my submission to keep Christchurch Council assets at the Christchurch City Council’s public hearings on its 10 year plan on 13 May. The hearings are live-streamed and recorded so you can watch them on www.ccc.govt.nz. The Council’s… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    5 days ago
  • John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “But yet again National is tinkering with the housing… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government stifles voices in CYFs review
    The Government’s exclusion of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in a panel on the future of CYFs is a cynical ploy to stifle views, says Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “It's unbelievable that a significant review on the future… ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me. Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key can’t just be Prime Minister for Parnell
    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In… ...
    1 week ago
  • Stop the conversions
    This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some  lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • More regional jobs go in Corrections reshape
    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka face closure… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start
    On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Taxpayers the only ones left feeling blue
    Ministry of Social Development bosses could have saved themselves thousands of dollars in consultants’ fees by providing staff with rose-tinted spectacles, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. A report out today reveals the Ministry is spending over half a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Why are the regions still facing restrictions?
    Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is questioning why the regions should continue to be saddled with LVR lending restrictions announced by the Reserve Bank today. “Labour has been calling for the regions to be exempted from LVRs for the best… ...
    1 week ago
  • The high costs of weak environmental regulation
    Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is described on the Department of Conservation website as “Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest [lake], and an internationally important wildlife area.” But the lake is also polluted by nutrients leaching from farms in the catchment.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Submissions to Wellington City Council on their Gambling Venues Policy
    Every three years Councils across the country are required to check that their gambling venue policies are still fit for purpose and they can choose to consult on their policy if they are thinking of making changes. Councils don’t have… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank action shows Govt out of touch and out of ideas
    The Reserve Bank’s unprecedented measures today show it understands the serious risks of the overheating housing market – in complete contrast to John Key’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The Bank is right to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Send us your snaps: 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year we've hit a milestone. We're turning 25.To help celebrate a quarter of a century, please send us your photos from the last 25 years of the Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand! Note: Photos must be jpg, gif or… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year the Green Party sends 25. To help us celebrate a quarter of a century please send us you photos of 25 years of the Green Party!Photos must be jpg,gif or png and smaller than 2MB. If you are… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay growth plan too little too late
    Today’s Bay of Plenty growth study from MBIE is another example of Government spin - lots of talk but little action, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “This is a region that desperately needs to develop the downstream processing… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government bows to ACC pressure
     The Government has finally buckled to pressure from Labour and the New Zealand public in making a half billion dollar cut to ACC levies, but the full benefits are two years away,” says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “$500 million over… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • False figures cloud Auckland transport facts
    The Prime Minister should apologise and issue a correction after both he and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have been caught out misrepresenting facts on Auckland’s transport spending, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Both John Key and Simon Bridges have… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt books confirm National can’t post surplus
    The last publication of the Government’s books before the budget shows National will break its promise of seven years and two election campaigns and fail to get the books in order, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • US state joins NZ with GE food labelling
    New Zealand has a similar law making the labelling of many GE foods compulsory, but the Government seems to let it slide.  Because the government has not monitored or enforced our GE food labelling laws since 2003, it seems the… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago

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